In 8th grade hoops, everyone was a guard, forward, or center. Or OMIGOSH, LIKE, IT’S TOTALLY SCOTT JENSEN!!!
The classic positions have evolved, but recognizing the five modern variations makes basketball much clearer. Allow my photo album to explain. (Sports are fun–and they help you organize!)
#1 spot, Point Guard:The PG directs plays. He’s quick, the best dribbler and passer, and can shoot outside or drive in. He is usually the shortest player (although “short” these days usually means six feet or more).
Think of him as Elvis: Charismatic, 6-0, talented on multiple fronts, a risk-taker not afraid to make sacrifices for the team–by joining the Army, or just adding an assist. And if you’re a blues purist, a guy for whom the occasional…steal doesn’t hurt.
#2 spot, Shooting Guard: The SG is typically the best outside, long-range shooter, the go-to guy. He’s also an unshakeable defender, who racks up the steals. He can take over as point guard—you’ll often see them interchanging.
Think of him as Batman: By the time you see him, it’s too late. He’s got dead-on accuracy, a big bag of tricks, and he looks remarkably like…my nephew. Hmmmm. Anyway, together, the guards comprise the “backcourt.”
#3 spot, Small Forward: Usually mid-six-feet, the SF is smaller than the power forward and center, but the feistiest and most versatile player. He can nail shots outside and aggressively drive in for the big scores (Michael Jordan, 6-6, played SF the latter part of his career). Skilled at drawing fouls, he’s a solid freethrow shooter.
Think of this one as: my college BFF, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Trimble. Leader, brave veteran, family man, willing to do anything for victory, and finally safe stateside again. The few, the proud, the small forwards.
#4 spot, Power Forward: This fella is tall and tough. He stays nearer the goal, making shorter jump shots and seeking rebounds which, on offense, give him most of his points. His focus is largely defense, blocking opposing players.
Think of him as my Granddaddy Leon McCoy Stevenson: Strapping, authoritative, high school principal, and honored four-sport coach who defended his family from the Depression. Swam, ran, and tended his own yard til his death at 92.
#5 spot, Center: Generally the tallest player (sometimes 7-feet+), the center is critical. He stays near the baseline (the “low post”), blocking and rebounding as a team’s last line of defense. On offense he makes short shots—very rarely will you see him outside.
Think of him as Rocky: Beloved 120-pound Lab love machine, majestic in stature, award-winner, noble retriever of any ball in his path, and the furry fulcrum of our family for 13 years. The forwards and center make up the “frontcourt.” Woof!